The First Sense
A Philosophical Study of Human Touch
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The MIT Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Human touch is a highly complex sensory modality, involving numerous interacting systems and exploratory capacities. Through touch we are able to interact directly with the world around us, feeling a wide variety of distinct properties, including warmth, solidity, roughness, and elasticity. We often incorporate tools to expand our reach and abilities. We use touch...
Many people deserve thanks for their assistance and feedback while I worked on this book. I would like especially to thank my great teachers: Mohan Matthen, Diana Raffman, and Evan Thompson. Mohan deserves special recognition for his generous and tireless efforts as my thesis advisor at the University of Toronto, where I first began working on...
1. What Is Touch?
This is a book on the theoretical issues raised by the sense of human touch. Like many works of philosophy, it begins with a seemingly basic question: what is touch? It’s true that a philosophical book on vision probably would not begin in similar fashion, asking what vision is. However, this is because visual awareness, for all its complexity and mystery, is a...
2. The Unity of Human Touch
This chapter is a continuation and development of the worries outlined in the previous chapter. In particular, it concerns the critical question of whether we ought to consider touch to be a single sense or something multisensory. Providing an answer to this question requires saying something in detail about what it means for an experience to be...
3. Exploratory Action in Touch
As I argued in the previous chapter, I believe that sensory modalities can be fruitfully divided up in multiple ways, depending on our explanatory interests. This sensory pluralism allows that for some explanatory purposes, we may for instance be primarily interested in the functional relations between the constituent systems involved in the generation of...
4. Touch and Bodily Awareness
In the previous chapters I argued that there were strong reasons for linking together the various components of touch into a single unified modality. This allows us to group together in a principled way those systems that code for thermal, vibration, pressure, and texture features. So far so good. However, touch seems unlike vision and the other senses in possessing a...
5. Tangible Qualities
Perceptual experience seems comprised (at least in part) by basic sensory qualities. Consider the way that a spoken language can be reduced to a set of distinctive, fundamental phonemes. All the beauty and wonder of Shakespeare’s plays can be reduced to a relatively small set of basic English sounds. Much the same seems true for perceptual experience. Our experience...
6. Distal Touch
In this chapter I argue that we can and do experience objects through touch, even when those objects are not in contact with the apparent limits of our bodies. And we can do so without explicit awareness of the proximal points of contact (as argued in chapter 4). I first discuss the nature of demonstrative content in perception and introduce the important distinction...
7. Pleasant Touch
In previous chapters we have considered whether touch is a single sense or inherently multisensory, examined the relation it bears to bodily awareness, offered an account of the structure and interaction of its basic sensible qualities, and considered how tactual awareness can stretch out beyond the limits of our body to objects and features located in the distal environment. In...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013
OCLC Number: 865508694
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The First Sense